Los Angeles AIDS Director Under State Investigation For Soliciting Campaign Contributions
The director of the Los Angeles County Office of AIDS Programs and Policy is under investigation by the county Department of Health Services to determine whether he misused county resources to aid a mayoral campaign, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Charles Henry solicited contributions for the Antonio Villaraigosa mayoral campaign from at least one agency to which Henry's office provides funds, according to county memos obtained by the Times. Henry in November 2004 sent an invitation for a fund-raiser to an unnamed county contractor along with a handwritten note, according to a memo.
After learning of Henry's campaign activities, his supervisors told him that such requests could create the perception among county grant recipients that "their support, or lack thereof, of Mr. Villaraigosa could impact their ability to secure funding," a memo said. At the time, Henry said he would continue to pursue political activities outside of the office (Leonard, Los Angeles Times, 3/9).
Supervisor Michael Antonovich last week requested that the county auditor participate in an investigation of Henry and undertake an audit of all contracts for HIV/AIDS services over the past four years to verify county billing.
John Schunhoff, chief operating officer for public health operations, said that county DHS "is looking into all these issues that were raised," adding, "There will be a report that will go over to the Board of Supervisors as soon as it's completed. But regardless of how this comes out, this won't have an impact on direct program services for people with HIV and AIDS."
The release of the investigation's results, which was scheduled for Tuesday, was "canceled indefinitely" and the issue was referred to county DHS for further investigation, the Los Angeles Daily News reports (Anderson, Los Angeles Daily News, 3/9).
Steve Levin, political reform manager for the Center for Governmental Studies, said, "It may not be outright illegal, but it just looks bad." Levin added, "He's perfectly within his rights to campaign for this person ... [b]ut when he starts using his contacts from the county, that's crossing a line" (Los Angeles Times, 3/9).